ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF SENIOR EXECUTIVE COURSE NO. 42, 2020 OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES, KURU ON MONDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY, 2020
I am pleased to be at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senior Executive Course 42, 2020 of the National Institute. I heartily congratulate the nominees of the Course for successfully scaling through the rigorous and intensely competitive selection process of admission into the programme this year. You should count yourselves highly privileged to be nominated to participate in this flagship course of the nation’s foremost ‘Think-Tank’ for policy and strategy. I am aware that the ten-month period of the course would be very engaging as it is designed to test and develop all aspects of your leadership and intellectual skills and capabilities.
2. When in 2019, I approved the theme of your study, Population Growth and Human Capital Development, the decision was largely motivated by the sincere desire of my Administration to articulate evidence-based and appropriate responses to the numerous challenges associated with the gap between population growth and human capital development in Nigeria. Over the years, successive governments, including this Administration, have done much to address these challenges. In the past, policy response might not have been borne out of hard evidence and this could account for lack of success in achieving specified objectives. It is a fundamental truth that Nigeria’s population growth rate is pretty high. Between 1991 and 2006 when the last population census exercise was conducted, our annual growth rate is put at 3.18 percent (NBS, 2018). At this annual growth rate, it is estimated that Nigeria’s population in 2050 will be about 543 million. Clearly this population size will be more of a burden than an asset, unless there is an appropriate and commensurate growth in the economy to take care of the growing population.
3. This Administration is determined to fashion out appropriate policy response to the challenges inherent in a rapid population growth without corresponding expansion in socioeconomic and physical infrastructure to bring about appropriate equilibrium. As you are aware, one of the cardinal objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a fundamental policy thrust of this Administration, is investing in the Nigerian people. This is consistent with the demand for human capital development to redirect the population growth from negative path to positive path. Human capital development involves creating the necessary environment for Nigerians, especially the youthful component, to acquire relevant knowledge, skills and competences that can help grow a healthy, productive and progressive Nigerian society.
4. It is evidently clear that there is a close relationship between the 2019 theme and the 2020 theme, in the sense that high population growth will require appropriate funding for health care delivery to keep the population healthy and productive. This is a critical component of human capital development. My Administration is strongly committed to ensuring that the exponential population growth rate of Nigeria does not have a negative impact on the Nigerian society. Such negative outcomes, such as unemployment, underemployment, growing crime rate etc could be kept within tolerable limit with evidence-based planning. It is my Administration’s desire to design an appropriate policy response through this year’s Study Report on Population Growth and Human Capital Development, to ensure that we do not have such a wide gap between the two variables. Thus, I consider the theme for 2020 very apt, timely and critical because of the need to ensure that the primary purpose of governance, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which is the provision of security and wellbeing of citizens, is guaranteed through close monitoring and control of population growth for optimum human capital development.
5. It is globally recognised that failure to develop human capital will lead to inability to compete economically and widen the socioeconomic gap between the minority haves and the majority haves-not that could bring about severe social dislocation with all the catastrophic consequences for the society, including undermining the foundation of civil society and our democratic order. Human capital development, all over the world, brings about high life expectancy and an efficient and productive work force, which are critical success factors in the enterprise of building a vibrant, productive and resilient national economy.
6. The Federal Government has high expectations of the nominees of Senior Executive Course No.42, 2020, given the critical role of human capital development as a response mechanism to rapid population growth in our national economy. You should research carefully into this theme in order to proffer policy options that will enable Government fashion out appropriate responses to the challenge of rapid population growth and slow pace of human capital development. A well-articulated human capital development can in itself, be an effective antidote to exponential population growth.
7. Specifically, Government expects that at the end of the Course, you will provide solutions to such issues as the existing gaps in the institutional, legal and policy frameworks for human capital development and how these frameworks can be strengthened to make them more responsive to the challenges of population growth. You should also examine the experiences of other countries in managing high population growth and human capital development. As you progress in your research, you may notice additional issues, which will need to be interrogated in order to address and add value to the theme of the course.
8. I am aware that one of the mandates of the National Institute is to proffer recommendations on critical national issues to Government in usable form. Hence, as you launch into the Course, and throughout your interactions with experts on these issues, your focus should be on making usable recommendations and policy options. I urge you to take advantage of the various aspects of the Course such as lectures, interactions with experts, local and international study tours, in order to appreciate best practices and propose solutions that are practical and actionable.
9. In addition to the routine work on your approved theme, you may be required to participate in conferences, brainstorming sessions, seminars, and workshops on other issue areas organised by the National Institute that will require in-depth analysis and policy recommendations to Government. It is therefore essential that you remain committed, dedicated, disciplined and focused throughout the period of the course.
10. I am personally delighted to observe that the National Institute is meeting its mandate as the nation’s apex Think Tank. NIPSS over the years has been sufficiently responsive to the demands of government’s well thought-out input to help in articulating effective policies to the numerous challenges Nigeria is contending with today. I urge the Institute to do more in this direction. Over the years, the Institute has performed excellently as a think tank institution to government. It has provided policy recommendations and implementation strategies on a wide range of issues of national importance too numerous to mention. There is no doubt that the National Institute has in the decades of its existence shown immense capacity, competence and strength of character in its role as Nigeria’s apex institution for policy research and training.
11. While I congratulate the Board, Management and Staff of the National Institute on these achievements, I must emphasize the urgent need for the Institute to be proactive in terms of challenges to national development. The Institute no doubt possesses the requisite capacity and capability to organise in-house seminars on critical national issues and come up with relevant and useable policy recommendations and implementation strategies to help in the enterprise of nation building.
12. Let me at this point thank the Government and People of Plateau State for providing the enabling environment for the National Institute to carry out its mandate successfully over the years. I urge both the Institute and the host State to continue to work together for the benefit of the larger Nigerian society.
13. On this note, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honour to inaugurate the Senior Executive Course No. 42, 2020 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. I wish you God’s guidance and protection throughout your stay in Kuru.
14. Thank you and God bless.